Video editing: What is the difference between Film Emulation and Colour Grading

Colour grading is making sure your footage has the right white balance, the correct exposure and colour balance throughout. Film emulation belongs to the advanced form of colour grading: suggesting a time of day and/or a mood, an atmosphere. You start with the correction process, then move on to the creation of a mood. For Final Cut Pro X, you have two plug-ins that help with setting the mood, but that do not pretend to be colour grading tools. One is potentially faster to work with than the other.

If you want to learn how to colour grade your footage, take a moment to visit this Youtube video by Denver Riddle, a professional Hollywood colour scientist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTro81QcivE. One of the first things Denver does is setting a correct White Balance.

Fast forward to the two dedicated film emulation plug-ins for Final Cut Pro X: FilmConvert and Koji Advance. FilmConvert for Final Cut Pro X received an update treatment over the weekend of the 12th, so I downloaded it and thought it’d be interesting to see how it stacks up in the newest version against Koji Advance. I reviewed both plug-ins earlier, with Koji Advance only a couple of weeks ago.

As usual the past months, the FilmConvert update was minor, but it does have dedicated GoPro HERO3/3+/4 profiles. I went on setting a Kodak emulation and as always with these film emulators, the colours were highly saturated and a lot of contrast was added. Now in FilmConvert Pro I can tune all that, but I don’t think you should have to. Follow me for a minute: Denver Riddle’s own Color Finale is a full colour grading plug-in, which also allows you to set up film emulation using 3D LUTs. If you buy the ImpulZ LUTs, for example, you will get a dazzling array of emulations, including those that enable you to mimic analogue film output.

The Color Finale plug-in is squarely targeting people who want to colour grade from A to Z. FilmConvert and Koji Advance on the other hand, want to make it easy on you. You don’t need to know much. Just select an emulation, tweak a few settings, and you should be good to go. It’s all about convenience, fast turnaround and good results.

With that in mind, FilmConvert lacks something essential and it boils down to this:

  • FilmConvert lets you select a film emulation but doesn’t help you set correct white balance. A difficult yellow colour cast I saw in a HERO3+ clip of new department store that I shot was due to the neon lighting overhead. The only way to get rid of it was to try set the white balance correctly. To do that right in FilmConvert’s plug-in, I really needed to open the RGB parade and, just like in Color Finale, had to go through the full colour grading process.
  • With Koji Advance, there’s a simple selection menu that allows you to set white balance automatically and it worked brilliantly. It worked with this clip and many others I’ve thrown at it. Which means it saves a lot of time and allows you to really concentrate on the creation of the mood.

By the way, Koji Advance doesn’t explicitly support GoPro HERO cameras, but if you’ve ever checked the Cineform web pages that used to discuss the Protune format GoPro uses, you will have found a page that basically says you can use Arri Log C because it comes close to the HERO camera’s log curve when shooting in Protune CamRAW setting.

Koji Advance supports Arri Log C and the results speak for themselves. I prepared a lame videocast that I created early in the morning to show you the difference between Koji Advance and FilmConvert in terms of ease-of-use.

[videojs mp4=”http://it-enquirer.com/media/Koji_fc.mp4″%5D

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3 Replies to “Video editing: What is the difference between Film Emulation and Colour Grading”

  1. Also it’s important to say that these tools are not magic and a bad lighting setup will be very hard (impossible?) to fix in post. No LUTs or plugins will be able to give a cine look to poorly lighted scenes. I had to work on amateur short in past and the director wanted absolutely “a cine look” but the lighting was predominantly natural but very badly managed 🙂

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